What is a Disciple?
Jesus told his followers to “Go and make disciples,” but what exactly is a disciple? Thankfully, we have a practical and simple definition found in Matthew 4:19, when Jesus called His first disciples. Watch and learn the 3 components of being a disciple of Jesus.
What Is a Disciple?
Simply put, a disciple is a follower of Jesus. Two thousand years ago, Jesus explained the basics of discipleship in one sentence. When Jesus calls someone to be a disciple, He makes a threefold call:
And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
1. A Disciple FOLLOWS Jesus.
The starting point of being a disciple is the decision to follow Jesus. This involves a relationship with God. The original disciples were able to physically follow Jesus as He ministered around Galilee. Today, we follow Jesus through emulating the pattern of living that He modeled for us.
2 A Disciple FISHES for people.
Fishing for people might sound funny, but here is what it means. It’s a metaphor for spreading God’s message with people who don’t know Him yet. Jesus took people who were fishermen by trade and challenged them to instead “fish for people.” This involves relationship with lost people. I use the term “lost” because Jesus used that term in three stories found in Luke 15.
Following Jesus does not mean we cut off all contact with non-Christians. Rather, we should continue our relationships so that Christ’s love can flow through us to others. In some of His last words on earth, Jesus commissioned His disciples to go and make disciples (that’s called the Great Commission and can be found in Matthew 28:19-20).
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The Bible verse above is written by Matthew, a tax-collector turned follower of Jesus. This unlikely disciple responded to his call to follow Jesus by throwing a party at his house so all his old and new friends could meet Jesus.
9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. 10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
3. A DiscipleFELLOWSHIPSwith other believers.
The idea of fellowship means to live connected in community. When Jesus called Matthew to follow Him, Matthew had to follow along with Peter and John. He was not given the option of following Jesus alone. Discipleship is and always has been a team sport. Their faith was lived in community with other followers. Real fellowship is intentional, Christ-centered relationships.
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
1 John 1:7
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
In the final meal Jesus had with His disciples before He would go to the cross, He did something crazy… He washed their feet, which was a task reserved for the lowest of servants (John 13:1-20). He did this to demonstrate His love for them, later sharing the following thought:
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Jesus shared what’s now known as the Great Commandment in that moment, stating that it’s our love for other believers that will make the world take notice of our faith.
In summary, Jesus shows us that being a disciple is all about relationship:
Relationship with God -> Following Jesus
Relationship with unbelievers -> Fishing for lost people
Relationship with believers -> Fellowshipping with believers